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Parents and MPs divided over Safe Schools

AAP logoAAP 16/10/2016 Anna Hitchings

Debate is still raging over the controversial Safe Schools program just weeks after a 17,000-strong petition calling for it to be scrapped was tabled in NSW Parliament.

Parents and schools around the country are divided, with some accusing the anti-bullying program of introducing children to a radical left-wing sexual ideology and others saying it saves lives.

Melbourne mother-of-four Cella White told the Seven Network she was so disturbed by the program she pulled her children from the school to transfer to a non "safe school".

"Safe Schools has highly sexualised content and I don't believe that that's the schools' place," Ms White said on Seven's Sunday Night program.

She also said she was concerned for the safety of her youngest daughter, who is blind, especially when using the school bathrooms.

NSW Liberal MP for Epping Damien Tudehope presented a petition with 17,000 signatures calling for Safe Schools to be abolished last month.

The move came on the heels of reports the Baird government was considering changing the program's status to "opt in", meaning parents would have to sign their children up rather than having to withdraw them.

Greens MP Jenny Leong later came out with a petition of her own in support of the program, calling for the Legislative Assembly to commit to the program in NSW schools.

Sunday Night also featured parents Kirra and Scott, whose young son Balon decided a year ago to dress as a girl and change his name to Briella.

Mum Kirra said Safe Schools had only benefited her child.

"They've given her friends. She actually likes going to school. She's your normal, everyday, sassy little girl," Kirra said.

"I don't understand - how is it influencing a child? The child's coming to you, telling you how they feel."

Yet Australian Catholic University professor Kevin Donnelly accused the program of being "radical".

"I'd argue their parents should be responsible for their (children's) education," he said.

"I think it's more about indoctrination rather than education."

There are 545 registered Safe Schools in Australia, the Seven Network said, with others introducing the program in private to avoid controversy.

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